Back again folks. I’ve been living it up large here in Thailand the past 5 months that I just haven’t gotten around to post anything new. Bad bad I know. As much as I’d like to say I’m living the life of the party every single day, my life is actually more spartan than a monk’s! All I’ve been doing is training training training to the tune of about 6 hours a day, 6 days a week, so I actually have a good excuse when I say I had no energy to post!
Ok Ok, enough excuses.
One of the biggest fears people have is having their site deindexed. If you have an entire network of sites deindexed, you can forget about getting every single one of those sites back. But what about a couple of the top money making sites? Or what if you have only a few big sites and they suffer a deindex. Is it possible to bring these sites back from the dead?
I suspect with a big of elbow grease and a lot of pleading with the google spam team, you can. I’ve actually brought a few brand new domains that had some deindex penalty associated with them I back into google’s good graces. So it’s completely possible to do, and I’m going to prove it from ground up with a real example with this case study.
Now I’m going to get on my soap box here and say this first: if you’ve had a site get deindexed, there’s probably a good reason for it. The google spam team does NOT go around deindexing quality sites that contribute value to readers. If you’ve got a site you’re quite active on, that the community finds useful, and is basically a clean site, and all your links don’t consist of spam, you won’t be bothered by google. If your site is ugly ass, your content is thin (ezine rewrites, dup content, or just basic content non-native speakers pumped out for a couple bucks and article, or fluff content that really says nothing new, and your navigation on the site sucks or tricks people into clicking on google ads, you’re going to have problems.
If your site looks even remotely like one of the following sites below, by the seven saints and their seven beards, you’d have to be a fucking idiot not to realize why your site was deindexed:
The Basic Process of Resurrecting a Deindexed Site :
1. Take off all monetization (affiliate links and adsense)
2. Ensure the theme/site design looks great, is user friendly, and looks like an authority site. This is critical if you want to bring a site back from the dead. I’ve had Google reject re-inclusion requests for a few of my sites with stellar content because the site layouts were not easy on the eyes.
3. Update site with at least two new posts (3-5 even better). You want to try and prove you actually care about the site.
4. Make sure you have at least 10 posts on the site. The most recent article should be huge: 1500 to 3000 words. You don’t want a bunch of articles about the same damn keyword topic over and over either.
5. Ensure post titles are not spammy or longtail phrases pulled straight out of the Google Keyword Tool
6. Include plenty of pictures and links to authority sites sprinkled throughout your posts. A few videos inserted into the post won’t hurt either. Do NOT link to spammy sites or thin sites. We are talking wikipedia/cnn style sites
7. Add your site to webmaster tools and submit it for reinclusion via Google Webmaster Tools’ re-inclusion request. Make sure you write a 2-3 huge paragraphs about how you didn’t know the site was violating quality guidlines and how you are creating the site to benefit the reader blah blah blah. Basically you need to convince whoever looks at your site that it’s a legit site and you won’t be doing anything questionable with it.
There are really two strategies you can try and employ here to “convince” whoever is looking at your site that you deserve a second chance.
Strategy 1: Admit Guilt and Swear You’ve Seen the Light
Complete bullshit, I know, but the goal here is to eat humble pie, tell google you fucked up bad, but you are now dedicated to creating a quality site that will serve the interests of the reader. It’s pretty key that your site has been completely revamped here and you’ve taken off ALL monetization. You won’t play a convincing part if your “reformed site” is full of affiliate links. This is the strategy I’ve taken a couple times.
This is sort of like when a cop pulls you over for going 25 mph over the speed limit. When they saunter up to the window and ask you if you knew you were speeding and you look them in the eye and say “Yes, there’s no excuse I can give you.” What happens is the cop is often quite shocked that you admit this upfront (they hear BS excuses all day long). Because of the honestly you actually might get a warning.
Strategy 2: Claim You Purchased the Website
You can also claim you recently purchased (or was given) the website and have no clue why it’s not indexed. It’s best to do this ONLY if you don’t have it added to webmaster tools (yet). Don’t bother with this if it’s verified with Webmaster Tools and you have Analytics on it (easy to tell you are full of bullshit).
If you’ve done steps 1-6 right, you should have a pretty good chance of getting your site back. I’ve had a few sites that have been rejected 2 or 3 times, but persistence paid off in the end and I was able to get it re-added (Google is extra picky about the quality of a site when you request a reinclusion. Make sure your site looks REALLY good on the eyes!)
Now I’d say Strategy 2 is the last ditch — i’ve been rejected from re-inclusion 5 times sort of attempt. Really though, I feel (and read part 2 of this article to see why), that you can pretty much recover ANY deindexed site if you put some work into it without resorting to a fake “I’m a new owner of this site ploy.”
If you opt for this strategy, you’ll need to follow steps 1-7 above in addition to doing the following:
1. Put your site on a different / new hosting server. Don’t throw it on any hosting that has your other sites and definitely not the same hosting it was on when it was deindexed or rejected from reinclusion if you made an attempt in the past.
2. Change Registars. If you bought it on godaddy, transfer it to some other registar. This is critical as it fits in with the whole “I bought this site from someone else”
3. Change the WHOIS information to something completely new. Change the phone number, email address, and owner name (you can fake this, but it’s not a good idea to put in fake owner information — you can lose a site in theory that way. Best if you have a business name or you put it in a family’s name or something).
4. It goes without saying that if you do use analytics (and you’ll need to connect the site to webmaster tools to do a reinclusion), you do it with a BRAND new google account that’s not connected to your old stuff. It’s best if you create a new google webmaster account /google account with a different IP. And don’t use the same contact info or email stuff! Whatever you do, don’t use google service connected with your old stuff!
5. You’ll need to do a complete site redesign. I have bought domains from other people only to find out they were deindexed. In one case, I submitted a reinclusion request and was STILL rejected because the new theme didn’t meet the quality guidelines. So the 1-7 guidelines at the beginning of the article still apply.
After you complete the above 1-5 steps, you then submit a new re-inclusion request (not before guys, not before).
Yes, strategy 2 is a lot more work than strategy 1, which is why I almost always employ strategy 1 unless I’ve bought a domain that’s been deindexed already for some reason (happened to me twice and in both times I have recovered gotten the domain reindexed).
My How to Restore a Deindexed Website Case Study
This post is going to be a bit of a case study on how to bring back to life a deindexed site using Strategy 1 from above. I had the google ban hammer come down one of my old sites about 9 or 10 months ago.
The site was about 3 years old, had 30 or so posts on it, and a few hundred backlinks. Before it was deindexed, it ranked #1 for a generic health term word and #1-5 for variations on that term. It was in a fairly competitive niche. It was getting over 2500 uniques a day. It was an exact domain for a long tail term (one with very good exact traffic for a 5+ word long tail — roughly 45k exacts per month), but ended up ranking for the short tail term.
I can’t say the site was a huge money maker — I was probably only pulling in 200-400 bucks a month from the site with affiliate sales and adsense. I didn’t optimize it for money as much as I could of as I was busy with a bunch of other projects. However, I probably could have sold the site for a nice 7-12k because of the niche it was in, the keyword it was ranking for, and the traffic it was getting. The site is worth trying to bring back from the dead — if I can manage it, I can try and sell it and will have turned something completely dead into something that could make me 10kish.
To be frank, the quality of the site in terms of content was fine, but there was no way it should have been ranking number one for that single word term with the layout it had. Generally, I’ve found that if you start ranking for “big” generic keywords, your site really has to “look” like you deserve that ranking, otherwise it gets kicked out by the google team. You really want lots of articles, the ability to support a community (f0rums or such), a custom (or at least a well designed layout) layout and such.
Unfortunately, the site was an affiliate site that I had been meaning to convert over to an authority style site. I did not do this soon enough however and as soon as it started ranking for that single word generic term, it shortly got a manual inspection followed by a deindex. It could be one of the competitors for that term reported the site.
So I will be following steps 1-6 exactly and I’ll report back to you guys with an update in a couple weeks. It usually takes about a week or two for google to process your reinclusion request.
How to Resurrect a Deindexed Site
Ok, it’s been a few weeks since my last post. I was waiting until the experiment was concluded. This a follow up to my post about restoring a deindexed site.
As stated in my last post, I committed the following changes to my deindexed website before doing a reinclusion request in the Google Webmaster Tools:
- changed the wordpress theme to a custom theme that looks good
- removed all monetization — adsense + affiliate links taken off
- modified the content to change anything remotely salesy to non salesy
- added 3 new posts (site has a total of about 25 posts). Made sure to include videos and pictures on the most recent post
- filled out the nav bar with more stuff (contact with picture + address, about page, a forum link)
This took me a couple hours to of playing around with the theme and site to do. I then submitted a re-inclusion request with a long paragraph about how I’ve revamped the site and the current aim is to help people with that health problem and to deliver legit and quality content.
Submitted the request Jan 14th
Statcounter log showed Jan 16th a Google IP from India (i’ve noticed this is where the quality inspectors come from). They stayed on the index page for 0 seconds.
Jan 19th, I received this in my Google Webmasters Mailbox:
Dear site owner or webmaster of [WEBSITE REMOVED]
We received a request from a site owner to reconsider [WEBSITE REMOVED] for compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
We’ve reviewed your site and we believe that some or all of your pages still violate our quality guidelines.
In order to preserve the quality of our search engine, pages from [WEBSITE REMOVED] may not appear or may not rank as highly in Google’s search results, or may otherwise be considered to be less trustworthy than sites which follow the quality guidelines.
If you wish to be reconsidered again, please correct or remove all pages that are outside our quality guidelines. When such changes have been made, please visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/reconsideration?hl=en and resubmit your site for reconsideration.
If you have additional questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
Ok, back to the drawing board for this one. I completely changed the theme, I removed all monetization, I updated the site with 3 new posts each around 1500 words. I included videos and pictures in the latest post. STILL not enough as whoever inspected the site from india still felt the site violated quality guidelines. A few reasons occurred to me:
-the site was in a health niche. Google stated in the past that health type sites need to be pretty trustworthy. Misinformation can have consequences
-the domain name itself was a spammy. It was a 6 keyword domain. It’s easy to argue that “healthcheck.org” is a legit site. But “howtogetridofcornsfast.net” or “howtogetridoftoepain.org” types of domains might be viewed a bit more critically, especially since they are ultra targeted. I’ve stated in the past that search seems to be favoring big general authority sites or big niche specific authority sites. Too specific might land you in trouble if the content and site layout is not appealing, especially if you start ranking for the root keyword and getting lots of traffic.
So I’m a firm believer in trying something until you can get it working. I went back to the site and modified it even more:
- added a custom logo to the site (before it was just a generic text logo) designed with logo software. Logo name was NOT the exact domain name, but more of a brand name (community related to the health problem)
- Changed the site title to something community orientated (not the same as the website domain, which is an EMD for the original term I was targeting).
- added another 3 posts with the last post being 2000 words and full of pictures and videos and LINKs to legit health sites.
- pumped up the sidebar with social media buttons, links to authority sites, some generic tips
- went through the entire site and removed about 10 low quality articles that were first put on the site 2 years ago. These were basically ezinearticle rewrites and the content was pretty similar in theme. Many of these had similar titles — they were basically created to target the long tails from google keyword tool.
All in all, I spent another 4 hours working on the site and designing that custom logo. Total time spent fixing the site up about 8 or so hours. I resubmitted another re-inclusion request January 20th.
I’m a firm believer in showing some proof and giving examples. So here is the before and after shots with site info/information edited out (for obvious reasons guys):
Well February 8th, traffic states suddenly spiked. It had been over 2 and a half weeks since my second re-inclusion request had been submitted and I had not seen any increase in traffic or reviewed any message from the Google team so I assumed I had been rejected again (from past experience, there can be a week or two delay between when they reject/accept your re-inclusion request and when they send you the official letter).
Well I logged into webmaster tools and found this waiting for me in the inbox:
February 7, 2012
Dear site owner or webmaster of [WEBSITE REMOVED]:,
We received a request from a site owner to reconsider [WEBSITE REMOVED]: for compliance with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Previously the webspam team had taken manual action on your site because we believed it violated our quality guidelines. After reviewing your reconsideration request, we have revoked this manual action. It may take some time before our indexing and ranking systems are updated to reflect the new status of your site.
Of course, there may be other issues with your site that could affect its ranking without a manual action by the webspam team. Google’s computers determine the order of our search results using a series of formulas known as algorithms. We make hundreds of changes to our search algorithms each year, and we employ more than 200 different signals when ranking pages. As our algorithms change and as the web (including your site) changes, some fluctuation in ranking can happen as we make updates to present the best results to our users. If your site continues to have trouble in our search results, please see this article for help with diagnosing the issue.
Thank you for helping us to maintain the quality of our search results.
Google Search Quality Team